The Toronto Blue Jays are reportedly nearing a two year contact with free agent starting pitcher Marco Estrada, according to a tweet from Joel Sherman. In accepting this rumored deal, Estrada would forego his qualifying offer of $15.8 million over one season.
With a two-year deal, expect to see a third option year tagged on to the end at a similar annual value. While I’d hope that the two-year total rests closer to $24 million than $29 million, this length of deal is beneficial for the Blue Jays as it limits their risk with Estrada, who is coming off an outlier season at age 32.
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Estrada represented a stabilizing force in the Blue Jays rotation after coming over from the Milwaukee Brewers in the Adam Lind deal, and while higher-profile arms struggled to produce on October’s grand stage, the right-hander didn’t flinch. The timing of this potential deal would also be critical for Toronto, as it directly addresses one of their needs before the market truly has a chance to break open.
From Estrada’s standpoint, he has seen his projected free agent value cool slightly since the end of the season. This is largely due to the draft pick that would be attached to his name following the qualifying offer extended to him by the Blue Jays. While that pick is a non-issue for star free agents, it significantly hinders the ability of someone like Estrada to cash in on a mid-level deal.
If finalized, this will give Toronto three confirmed starters in Estrada, R.A. Dickey and Marcus Stroman. The likes of Drew Hutchison, Aaron Sanchez, Roberto Osuna and Liam Hendriks are all in the mix to fill the back end of the rotation, but it’s extremely unlikely that this is Toronto’s final prominent pitching move. Depth below the Major League level is also an issue, so expect a high level of activity.